What is Carb Cycling?
If you are counting macros then you have a certain number of grams of carbohydrates that you are eating each day.
Carb cycling is simply eating more carbs on one day and less on another, instead of the same exact number of carbs each day.
Benefits of Carb Cyling:
With my lifestyle clients who’s main goal is fat loss, carb cycling offers them even more flexibility in their meal plans.
It allows them to plan for social situations where they would benefit from having more carbs to work with. It helps clients feel less restricted, because let’s be real, if you are cutting you are definitely eating less!
One of my goals is to help them not feel so restricted that they binge. Carb cycling can help them be successful by giving them an opportunity to enjoy foods that normally might not fit their macros.
Carb Cycling is often used to break plateaus. The body is super smart so switching things up can help keep fat loss moving.
Do I “have to” Carb cycle?
No. You can eat your macros as they are written each day. It’s nice to have options though.
One of my clients had a dinner planned for Saturday night. She reserved 20g carbs a day for Saturday and had an extra
120g carbs for her dinner.
Can I save all my fat and carbs for Saturday night?
No. You may not. You must be fueling your body each day. Fat cycling is not “a thing”. Your body needs the fats on your macro plan so you can be healthy. Fat in your diet keeps you from being hungry.
If you are looking for a binge opportunity, reassess your goals.
Do I have to have a pattern for my carb cycling?
Well.. you can. You can test the waters and see if having a few lower carb days followed by a higher carb day works best. I myself do 1 high carb day per 7 days. If I have stalled, I have done lower carbs for 2 days with 1 high carb day. As long as your numbers add up. If you don’t want to get that detailed.. that’s ok too!
What kind of foods should I use?
Clients who are on a cut in my program and especially competitors in prep are eating 90% whole foods (read clean*).
That means most carbs are coming from veggies, fruits, . On high carb days, I chose things that are starchy.
If Skinny pop can fit here.. well.. I look forward to that. For myself, I do keep it 90% clean* because of my issue with sugar.
If I have only 200g carbs a day that means only 20g carbs a day can come from fun stuff. That’s ok with me. I still have a little something fun but I don’t have room to go crazy.
High carb days for training benefits is one way I use carb cycling. If I am doing a heavy leg day, dead lifts, squats, that is a great day to eat higher carb. I use my pre-workout carbs to fuel my lift. I can eat more that day because I’m really really hungry!
End game: You need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less overall) to achieve fat loss. If you are training/fueling properly, you have options with your food.
*clean. There is no such thing. For the sake of this blog, I will use this term as whole foods. Some processed foods are very solid. I like Flat out wraps. They are processed. So let’s just agree that Snickers bars don’t fall under clean. Food quality matters to me. If you are unsure of all this.. check out this blog.